Meet our Members: Susie Officer

+26 votes
549 views

Hi everyone!

Meet_our_Members_Photos-82.jpgIt's time to get to know another one of our wonderful WikiTreers. This week's member is Susie Officer.

Susie became a Wiki Genealogist in June of 2020. She is most active in the England Project where she's the co-Project Coordinator for the Orphan Trail but she is also a GreeterMentor and a Team Leader with the Accessibility Angels Project.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?  

I’m currently researching my mother’s side of our family. Beilby (or Bielby) is the main name and I have been doing that consistently for the last two years. Also involved are Nation, Wyeth, Cleeve, Henderson and Lovell – but I’m still to really get across them. I’ve also been quite distracted and obsessed with a couple of non-family surnames – Vaughan and Bickley (or Byckley) – who I became involved with while completing the England Project Orphan Trail. Somehow I need to get to my father’s Potter & Gell side!

What are some of the locations you are researching?

England and Australia are the locations I work in. Mainly Yorkshire in England and Victoria in Australia. Though the Challenges can take me anywhere which is one of the great things about them I find. Found myself in Scotland during the recent ‘Thon. My father’s family are from Sussex so I will move onto that County once I’ve exhausted the Beilby’s in Yorkshire.  All my Australian ancestors stayed in Victoria…so I don’t get travel too far and wide in Australia – though I’ve just discovered the Wyeth’s spent time in Western Australia so that’s going to be fun to investigate! Another side of my father’s family came to Australia from Prussia so I will eventually get there too.

When and how did you get interested in genealogy and family history?

I have always loved history and hearing about my relatives. I was lucky to grow up with all four grandparents in my life so have heard and learned a lot about the older couple of generations. When we moved my parents out of the family home a few years ago I found loads of papers which motivated me to start documenting things and organising it all rather than just having the stories in my head and boxes of random stuff and musty papers. Mum always planned to do this but didn’t get around to it so that’s what I am doing now. The one positive upside of Covid is that I’ve had time to get a start and achieve much more than I thought possible.

Who's your favorite ancestor and why?

It is so hard to pick just one – but I think I admire my great great great grandmother Fanny Simpson the most. She lost a young daughter before leaving England in 1858 to come to Australia. She lost another son shortly after arriving and then shortly after that, she lost her husband from dysentery. I imagine her story was not uncommon for the time. She remained in Australia with her two young boys, both born in Yorkshire, England, and remarried again. The man she remarried provided a wonderful life for them by all accounts – so much so that my great grandfather was given his surname as his middle name. Fanny died before her second husband and was buried with her young son and first husband which I think speaks volumes about the relationships she had. So, I feel she must have had a tragic and hard time but was somehow able to make a good life for her family despite the tragedy she must have endured away from her own family in a far-flung land. I would love to have met her.

Tell us about a brick wall you hope to bust through.

There is some mystery around Michael Beilby (b 1717 Kirkburn, Yorkshire, England) and one of his children, Isabella. I’d love to figure that out and get his line back a few more generations. I’ve also always been told we are related to the famous Beilby glass enamellers but I’m yet to find a connection – they are my two 2022 goals to break through.

(interview continues in comments)

WikiTree profile: Susie Officer
in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.9m points)

If you could pick one person in history to be related to, who would it be and why?

Harry Styles.  I’d love to be his mother-in-law.  Oh wait – he’s not an historical figure yet is he!!!  Um…when my grandmother (b. 1905) was about 93 we asked her what the most important change/invention in her life was. We expected her to say electricity or television or man on the moon. She said it was the invention of penicillin because the babies stopped dying. That’s always stuck with me, so I’d say Alexander Fleming because his discovery has saved countless lives – especially the young.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

My still living family members! Walking on the beach and when time permits I’d very much like to get back into playing golf regularly.

How long have you been on WikiTree and what do you spend the most time doing?

I’ve been a member since June 2020 – so not very long in the scheme of things. I’m a member of several projects but most active in the England Project where I’m the co-Project Co-Ordinator for the Orphan Trail. I’m also a team member with the Greeters and Mentors projects and a Team Leader with the Accessibility Angels Project. It keeps me quite busy!

What brought you to WikiTree?

I spent ages trying to work out how and where to document my research. Online, locally on my laptop, in hard copy in folders and notebooks, etc. While I was playing around with all of that and checking out other sites and software, I stumbled across a conflated ancestor on WikiTree, with the problem also repeated on Ancestry and MyHeritage.  So, I signed up to resolve that (which I did) and now the rest is history (pardon the pun).  And Ancestry and MyHeritage have both been updated which makes me happy.

What is your favorite thing about WikiTree?

The one profile per person thing is my favourite feature – it just can’t be beaten. I like to think of it as the central source of truth.

If you could improve one thing about WikiTree, what would it be?

Having a smarter built-in citation method would be my one thing - without making it too constraining or rigid given there are many types of acceptable sources. Being able to reuse citations/sources across profiles at the click of a button, like we can with Images, would be awesome. And requiring each citation to have some basic elements so we can have some standardisation would be tremendous. Some of the new and wonderful browser extensions help enormously, but formatting and reusing citations across profiles can still be quite tedious

What is an example of how WikiTree has helped you with your genealogy?

The England Project Orphan Trail, in particular, helped me no end when I was getting started. Being in Australia, I would not have had a clue where or how to find digital records about my family in England – or how to cite them or organise my findings – or write a biography of any interest. WikiTree has provided me with a structure to combine multiple types of references (digital, family papers, images, books etc) into a single profile, write a bio and share what I find. I have also loved being able to add to already existing family profiles with new information I’ve discovered and pay that back to the family member who originally created it – that’s very satisfying.  

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Read the WikiTree How To Use tutorials.  And then read them again! And join a project relevant to your interests or where your ancestors hail from. There’s so much help available from people willing to lend a hand. Don’t try to operate in a bubble and do everything on your own. Being a project member is a great way to learn and find help and pick up tips about how to do things from people who have been here longer. Above all else, we all have something to learn from each other.

Thanks for sharing and congratulations!

6 Answers

+9 votes
Congratulation on being nominated as member of the week, Susie.

I think the fate that your great-great-grandmother had, many had to endure at that time. From the point of view, we can be glad to live today, when infant mortality has decreased considerably and many diseases that used to be considered incurable can be cured. Even if there is a worldwide pandemic today, the effects of the plague, cholera and other pandemics were considerably worse. In many areas, often more than 1/3 of the population died.
by Dieter Lewerenz G2G Astronaut (1.9m points)
Thank you Dieter!  Life back then must have been so difficult without the medical advances we have today.  Such a loss of life.  While I'd love to travel back in time and find out what it was like back then, I'm very grateful to be living in this time - even with Covid!
+7 votes
Congratulations, Susie, and thank you for all you do for our tree.  It's always interesting to learn other member's stories.  I, too, have Yorkshire ancestors, Bowes and Oman from nearby Withernwick and Beverly, who came to Canada, in the 1830's.  It was an inscription on Ellen Oman Bowes' gravestone that led me to look there.  I enjoyed an email conversation with the gent that maintains the Withernwick village website.  He made a page for them on the site.
by Mark Weinheimer G2G6 Pilot (712k points)
Mark, thank you! I know Oman's here in Australia - I wonder if they belong with you!  Isn't it amazing how people are so willing to help and bring people to life - long after they are dead....
+9 votes
Congratulations on being chosen as Member of the Week, Susie, and thank you for all that you do for the Wikitree community. I have learned a lot from you.
by Anonymous Ford G2G6 Pilot (146k points)
That is very kind of you Leandra.  As my Trailblazer on the England Project's Orphan Trail, I have to say that you set me up and taught me far more than you could ever learn from me!
+8 votes

Congratulations Susie, I don't know how you find time for everything that you do, and I can definitely vouch for the fact that you have the patience of a saint for putting up with leading me through part of the Orphan Trail. Thanks!

by Gill Whitehouse G2G6 Mach 1 (19.5k points)

Thanks Gill.  We had fun didn't we - and still are!  You are doing a fantastic job as a Trailblazer yourself too now btw. yes

+4 votes
Well done Susie, we couldn't do without you. Just have trouble keeping up with you!

Love,

Ann
by Ann Browning G2G6 Mach 3 (32.0k points)
Thanks Ann - we all do our "thing".  You have yours as much as I do.  That's what makes WikiTree so great. xxxx
+3 votes
Wow, Susie, what a great interview and good to find out more about you. You are an inspiration in the Orphan Trail. I've got many connections in Yorkshire and Sussex so maybe our ancestors crossed paths in one of those counties.

Best wishes for all that you do both in and outside of WikiTree.

Maureen
by Maureen Wilkins G2G6 Mach 1 (15.7k points)
Thanks Maureen - that's very kind of you to say.

I loved learning more about you in your interview too.  

xx

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